Friday 6 April 2018

The Pornography of War

Chemical, gas, phosphorous, even radioactive weapons are fine when used by 'our side' but cause for military intervention when used by our supposed 'enemies'. An intervention which draws on stocks from the above.
Al Jazeera reporter Dahr Jamail stated that, 'The U.S. invasion of Iraq has left behind a legacy of cancer and birth defects suspected of being caused by the U.S. military’s extensive use of depleted uranium and white phosphorus.' 
Witnessing the birth defects in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, Jamail added: ‘They’re extremely hard to bear witness to. But it’s something that we all need to pay attention to ... What this has generated is, from 2004 we are seeing a high rate of congenital malformations in this city.'
His view was supported in an epidemiological study in The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health which concluded that: 'Fallujah is experiencing higher rates of cancer, leukemia and infant mortality than Hiroshima and Nagasaki did in 1945.' (Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005-2009)
Fourteen years later ex-UK ambassador Craig Murray writes about Syria: 'In this extraordinary war, where Saudi-funded jihadist head choppers have Israeli air support and US and UK military “advisers”, every time the Syrian army is about to take complete control of a major jihadist enclave, at the last moment when victory is in their grasp, the Syrian Army allegedly attacks children with chemical weapons, for no military reason at all.'
His cynicism is shared by Theodore Postol, a leading weapons academic at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), who believes that the US government does not provide any "concrete" evidence that Assad was responsible. He has said: 'I have reviewed the [White House's] document carefully, and I believe it can be shown, without doubt, that the document does not provide any evidence whatsoever that the US government has concrete knowledge that the government of Syria was the source of the chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun, Syria at roughly 6am to 7am on 4 April, 2017.'
Meanwhile the drums of war get louder with Tony Blair predictably urging on the bombers. 
Craig Murray is right to warn that, 'The massive orchestration of Russophobia over the last two years is intended to prepare public opinion for a wider military conflict centred on the Middle East, but likely to spread, and that we are approaching that endgame.'
Perhaps there is another endgame in sight and they are linked. It's the arrival of the fifth horseman of the Apocalypse, 'War as Diversion'.
The FBI has now raided the offices of Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen. He was involved in the $130,000 payment to 'Stormy Daniels'. Apparently she can describe the President's genitals. 
For the sake of the dead and dying and for all our sanities it is time to oppose pornography in all its forms.

Thursday 5 April 2018

The Madonna of the Mountains

I have just finished Elise Valmorbida's ‘The Madonna of the Mountains', set in the Veneto region of north east Italy at the time of Mussolini and Italian fascism.
Elise is a close friend of Anne Aylor and co-founder of the weekly writing group they both attend. I have loved her writing ever since I read 'The Book of Happy Endings'. About unusual couples, I am pleased to have introduced her to my Iraqi friends, Haifa Zangana and Mundher al-Adhami, who have their own chapter.
I read 'Madonna ... ' straight through in two days. It gripped me to such an extent I found myself re-reading sentences because of their content and structure. In fact I realised I was reading an astonishing prose poem.
Characters and place were tangible. I could see them and felt their presence.
And the food and its centrality to life and survival in this community? Its primacy, its value, its origins, its preparation held more important that the actual taste. I found that interesting.
As a ‘political’ being I wanted to know more as to why X was a fascist, Y anti-fascist and the main character, Maria and her family just trying to survive. Towards the end I realised that the content and rhythm of this book is much more political than the Political. And will therefore stand the test of time.
If readers want to know what life was like in Mussolini's Italy they should turn to this book and keep Gramsci for later!
('The Madonna of the Mountains' is available on Amazon, in Watersones and other good bookshops. Published by Faber, it is already winner of The Times 'book of the month'.)